Research

Aging societies more vulnerable to collapse

Societies and political structures, like the humans they serve, appear to become more fragile as they age, according to an analysis of hundreds of pre-modern societies. The study, which holds implications for the modern world, provides the first quantitative support for the theory that resilience of political states decreases over time. Triggers of societal collapse […]

A painting of a Roman style city being sacked.

McDowell recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher

Nathan McDowell, a PNNL researcher with a joint faculty appointment in the School of Biological Sciences, has been added to the list of the world’s most Highly Cited Researchers. He and six other WSU faculty recognized this year join five other WSU faculty previously recognized for studies most often cited in their fields. This recognition […]

Washington State University Cougars logo and Clarivate logo.

Cannabis users appear to be relying less on conventional sleep aids

Most people who reported using cannabis to get a good night’s rest in a recent study have quit using over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids all together. More than 80% of the 1,255 cannabis users surveyed for the Washington State University-led analysis reported no longer using over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids such as melatonin and benzodiazepines. […]

A woman lying in bed with hands on her face and a clock displaying 3:41 a.m.

Climate change expected to decrease window for controlled burns

Rising temperatures will cut the number of days when conditions favor prescribed fires by 17% on average across the western U.S., mostly in spring and summer, according to a recent study. Prescribed fires are typically lit by trained firefighters to clear away excess plant matter to help prevent conditions that might otherwise turn a healthy […]

A woman in a yellow shirt and hard hat holding a drip torch and lighting low level vegetation on fire.

Elk hoof disease likely causes systemic changes

Elk treponeme-associated hoof disease, previously thought to be limited to deformations in elks’ hooves, appears to create molecular changes throughout the animal’s system, according to epigenetic research from Washington State University. The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also suggest those changes may be heritable. It remains to be seen though whether this means subsequent […]

A Roosevelt elk bull with large antlers standing in a green field.

WSU anthropologist edits special journal issue on cultural climate adaptation

Human communities across the globe have a long history of generating effective solutions to climate change, and many of these often-little-known cultural adaptations could prove useful today.  That’s according to a new special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, edited by Washington State University anthropologist Anne Pisor. The special issue brings together a […]

Rice paddies from Jatiluwih, Balican can be seen from the air.

Urban light pollution linked to smaller eyes in birds

The bright lights of big cities could be causing an evolutionary adaptation for smaller eyes in some birds, a new study indicates. Researchers found that two common songbirds, the Northern Cardinal and Carolina Wren, that live year-round in the urban core of San Antonio, Texas, had eyes about 5% smaller than members of the same […]

Preschoolers show cultural differences in generosity, competitiveness

In a set of sharing experiments, Spanish-speaking Latino preschoolers were more likely to choose options that would be more generous to others, even over a more equal sharing choice. Their English-speaking peers in the Washington State University study more often chose the most competitive option, one that advantaged themselves over others. The most competitive among […]

Closeup of children's hands as they color and make crafts at a table.

Faster postal service linked to better voter turnout

A more efficient U.S. Postal Service can increase voter turnout in all states regardless of their mail voting laws, according to a Washington State University study. WSU researcher Michael Ritter analyzed election data from 2012 through 2020, when the pandemic encouraged many more people than usual to vote by mail. He found that in general […]

Close up of a Vote-By-Mail Ballot envelope laying on an American Flag.

Pandemic pushed half-million kids into grandparents’ homes

Grandparents appeared to serve as an important private safety net when COVID‑19 first hit the U.S., according to a study led by a Washington State University researcher. The pandemic’s arrival in 2020 coincided with a surge of nearly 510,000 children living in “doubled‑up” households, co‑residing with other adults in addition to their parents or parents’ partners. […]

A senior man embracing a little boy at home.